New threads, new books, new stuff: we all need it sometimes, and, in general, we know where to find it. But secondhand shopping requires a bit more finesse and a bit more knowledge. Thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone in Shanghai. TKHUNT has scoured the streets of Shanghai and below you’ll find our best of the best for vintage clothes and general thrifting.
1. Anxi Clothing Market
One of our favorite markets in Shanghai is the Anxi Clothing Market. This collection of literally dozens of secondhand stalls can be found under Line 3/4 of the metro. A number of vintage sellers come here to restock for their Taobao or pop-up stores. And although you’ll need to come with plenty of time and patience on your hands (par for the course, right?) there are great finds to be had at rock bottom prices. Anxi is heaven for those with an eye for retro bargains; among some true garbage you can find unique pieces waiting to live again. Spread out into the two enclosures on either side of Anshun Lu, we found this market to be particularly good for leatherwear, like jackets and shoes from 60 RMB and bags at around 350 RMB.
Add: 1355 Kaixuan Road, Changning District
2. No 3975
An army checkpoint sign above the cash desk sets the tone at No 3975, while the whitewashed walls are adorned with black chain-link panels hung with all manner of military bags, from canvas duffles to first aid kit boxes and leather tripod cases – this shrine to military memorabilia is strictly one for the boys.
Add: Lane 39, Shaanxi South Road
3. Mulan Huage Furniture
Is a thrift shop less of a shop if it’s more of a… heap of things, piled under a sheet of corrugated iron? We’re going to go with absolutely not. Commonly referred to as an antiques market or a curio shop or something entirely different, Mulan Huage Furniture is closer to a junkyard on first glance, with teetering towers of wood tables and chairs looming over piles of decorative Buddhas, often headless. Located in a small industrial estate adjacent Lingzhao Xincun Station, Mulan Huage is a dusty and chaotic mess of furniture and household collectibles. The place is almost impossible to navigate (almost), but that’s part of the fun (and if it doesn’t sound like it– this place is not for you). Depending on what’s there when you visit, old-school tea leaf and biscuit tins (of the sort that Jonas Design regularly incorporate in their clocks, lamps) can be found from 40 RMB. Small jewelry boxes can be had for 60 RMB, birdcages for 100 RMB. If you wanted to really go in you could get antique chests fo drawers from 800 RMB or a double-headed gramophone for 2,300 RMB. Bargain hard, but keep in mind you can bring stuff back to Mr. Sun, who runs the place, for repairs if necessary. For those who don’t enjoy the thrill of the dig, look elsewhere.
Add: Unit A, Lane 1788, Jiyang Road
4. Shanghai Book Traders Used Books
Foreigners in China run risk of serious used-book withdrawals. Thankfully Shanghai Book Traders has got you. This tucked-away shop trades in English-language reads that won’t destroy your wallet. The tiny space is floor-to-ceiling packed with shelves of books. Have a good rummage under the very, very watchful eye of the proprietor and you can find the kind of bargains that might be familiar back home (but better). A cursory search finds Watership Down for 8 RMB and a range of Thomas Hardy novels for 12 RMB a pop, along with mainstream contemporary thrillers by Dan Brown and Grisham. Another huge draw to this store is the range of backlogged periodicals. Get your back issues of The Economist for 12 RMB, Conde Nast Traveller for 15 RMB, Elle for 20 RMB, and Vogue for 25 RMB. Many are only a week old, and vastly cheaper than other Shanghai stockists. They’ve also got a range (limited) of Chinese books and mags for you to peruse.
Add: 36 Shanxi South Road
5. Shanghai Charity Foundation Shop
The first proper charity shop we encountered in Shanghai was the aptly named Shanghai Charity Foundation Shop on Taiyuan. This store donates all proceeds to the eponymous Foundation, helping people in need from rural communities. It’s rather bare as shops go, with items a bit too spread out on the shelves, but there are interesting deals to be found. Don’t be put off by the over-staffed nature of the spot, they don’t bite (they just watch you like a hawk). Have a mooch through their range of goods, which, if it isn’t lovingly curated, is definitely interesting: stuffed toys, books, and magazines from 3 RMB each. You can also pick up basics like light bulbs, toothpaste, cutlery and lighters for very low prices. A brand new full wok and pan set goes for 150 RMB over here.
Add: 76 Taiyuan Road
6. Shanghai Secondhand Store
This unexpected treasure trove is a surprise for more than one reason: first, it’s not a store per se, but a mass of secondhand goods that have accumulated in an apartment near Dailan Lu. You got to get this one open by appointment.
Enterprising founder Jane Yang runs the store and website from her apartment, collecting a wide range of second-hand items for both rent and sale. If you’re setting up a new flat, a quick look around here is likely to throw up a lot of your basics, meaning you might not even have to brave Ikea. There’s a huge array of plates, glasses and cutlery from 100 RMB for a set. Have a slightly deeper dig and you’ll find items like a huge porcelain blue-and-white vase for 100 RMB, a 15-knife block for 150 RMB, and a set of brand new tea light holders for 20 RMB. A tennis racket goes for 30 RMB, ditto a pink rabbit cage. We also spotted a Monopoly set, gently used speakers, chess, golf clubs, and a range of different household heaters and radiators (40 – 320 RMB) alongside several tall shelves of books in both English and Chinese. At the time of our visit, paperbacks were going for 15 RMB and hardcovers for around 30 RMB.
Add: Room 1806, 18th Floor, 288 Changyang Road
7. Shenhui Secondhand Store
This large shop opposite Cotton’s on Jianguo Xi Lu recently went into a major renovation, so it’s anybody’s guess what’s next for this dependable vintage spot. It’s not clear what will emerge from the building work on the top floor, but the basement remains untouched. Shenhui Secondhand is a great place to find a whole range of items from the eccentric to the highly functional, but you’re going to have to sift through a lot of stuff you’re not desperate enough to go in for (broken stuff). There’s an excess of worn out bedframes and ugly cabinets, but if you’re persistent, you’re going to find some treasure. Example: large wooden seat in the Chinese style for 280 RMB, a chic wood hat stand for 120 RMB, and a bunch of vintage typewriters for 500 RMB each.
Add: 604-605 Jianguo West Road
8. Lolo Love Vintage
Local trendsetter and stylist Lolo Luo owns and operates this store, something of a mecca for Shanghai’s vintage lovers– dare we say, a community? Earlier this year, Lolo made a move from Love’s original address, the now-defunct 696 Weihai Lu Complex, to a bigger and better leafy spot in the French Concession. A variety of eras are represented here, among the hats (350 – 580 RMB), dresses (280 – 3,000 RMB), designer handbags (2,000 RMB for the big names), shoes (220 RMB on up), glasses and jewelry (50 RMB for earrings).
And you can’t put a price tag on love: everything in this room was hand selected by Luo on one of her excursions to Europe. This is mostly women’s wear, but there’s a small (hopefully growing) selection for dudes.
Add: first wooden door, Lane 87, Wuyuan Road
9. William the Beekeeper
This whimsical boutique is the passion project of the one, the only, Cairn Wu Reppun. She’s also the mind behind Shanghai’s ready-to-wear Kaileeni label. As well as her own brand, William the Beekeeper (affectionately known by locals and aficionados as WTB) stocks vintage threads and accessories sourced from locales as far-flung as the USA and Korea, as well as deals on consignment from Shanghai’s local fashionistas.
New styles appear regularly but prices remain affordable. I.e., a silk day dress can go for 450 RMB, with tops priced from 100 RMB. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, WTB also pedals organic honey from the family farm in Hawaii. Really.
Add: 84 Fenyang Road
10. Shanghai Code
One of Shanghai’s most unique and intimate vintage boutiques, Shanghai Code’s bread and butter are their rad vintage eyeglasses. Think 1940 to 1980. You want to turn up here for the mind-blowing array of locally sourced frames and shades from 180 RMB (although you can get up to 2,000 RMB if you’re looking for a truly special pair). And if glasses aren’t your thing, go for the watches. Vintage watches from the iconic Shanghai Watch brand go for 240 to 1,200 RMB.
The owner, Shelly Fan, is generally a hit with customers and is known for being friendly and knowledgeable about her stock and a lot, lot more – but her English is limited.
Add: back entrance, Lane 2, 274 Taikang Road